Saturday, October 25, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Final Round.

Hi there,

Today comes the tale of the sixth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, the final round for this year tournament.

  • It was hard fishing.
  • We did not too bad.
  • Brett broke a very nice fishing rod.
  • I lost a horse of a fish.
  • And I already can't wait for next year Series.
The round for 2014 took place at Salt Water Arm, and Leaders Creek was included in the boundaries.
So we decided to launch from Leaders Creek, to use their dry feet launch facilities, and also because we had elected to camp on their camping ground in the evening.
As we made our way along Leaders creek in the morning light, I could not help myself to think that I was pretty lucky to live in this peaceful part of the world.

Morning in Leaders Creek.

We did not wast any time in Leaders, and moved straight to the Narrow in Salt Water Arm.
There we started a troll, as the place is famous for big Barramundi. Keeping an eye on the sounder to see if we could spot some fish.
Brett saw some, and after trolling over them once or twice for not even a sniff, we decided to use the electric motor, to stay close to them, and to try to cast lures in their direction.
We had started fishing for about 25 minutes, when Brett did a cast in the opposite direction of the fish, aiming at the mangrove near the bank. He was fishing with his new custom made fishing rod, that he had won in a precedent round of the TEBS, and a new lure that he had never tested before...
As soon as his offering landed in the water, between some mangrove roots, the lure got engulfed by a very nice Barramundi.
Beauty! The fish was strong, but Brett fought it well, and after a few runs, I was able to net it, and the spirits went flying high.

Brett's first Barramundi of the weekend.

At 72cm (28.346457 inches), this was a great start to the round! As you can see, the tail on this fish was big and powerful. We were more than happy, we had just started, in a spot that none of us were very familiar with, and in no time we had managed to get a good fish in the boat.
It was released after a quick measurement, and the obligatory photographs.
We believed then and there that the weekend was going to be easy and full of good fish...
Oh how appearance can be misleading some times...

How? Well for a start, on the third cast after this fish, Brett brand new rod, broke.
Just like that, he was not doing anything particular, he was just casting. I was standing next to him, his lure was still in the air, when we heard the dreading sound of a graphite fishing rod breaking.
We have no ideas why it broke, but it certainly put a dent in our happiness.
To Brett because it was a brand new rod, that he was using for the first time, and had been fishing with for less than an hour. And to me because, well that is definitively not something that you wish to a good mate of yours, especially in a competition.
With the fact that Brett would now have just one fishing rod left for the rest of the round settling in, we decided to do a bit more trolling.
Which resulted only in a little Cod that took my lure in about fifteen feet of water.
Where it went back.
Then we noticed that someone had been even more unlucky than Brett.
A guy, steering his boat at night, had crashed in the mangrove, big time.

Crashed boat.

This was a guy we know, and we heard from other people that he was now in hospital.
A few days after the comp, we learned that yes the damage were of consequence, but that every body on this boat was still alive, and out of hospital.

As we could not find any more fish in the Narrow, we decided to move closer to the Wilshire, and entered a beautiful little creek.
It had Barramundi written all over it. Bait, eddies, snags, everything was there, except the Barramundi. Like if they had never heard of this beautiful little creek.
Until, we found in a bent of the creek, a great looking snag. 
We were still in the approach mode, silently going forward with the electric motor, when I could not resist anymore, and did the longest cast possible. To drop my lure, between the snag and the bank, and started to jig it back toward the boat through the snag. Wondering if I would hit the timber of the snags, or be lucky enough to finally find a fish in there. And bang I was on! Instead of diving for the snag, it went straight to the surface and jumped out of the water, showing us with no doubt, that he was a Barramundi!
I got so afraid that it would take me around the submerged trees, which it could have easily done, but Brett quick thinking (and he would have to think quick later on too...) put the boat in the best place, for me to extract this little Barramundi out of the snags, and he netted it in a perfect manner.
I was on the board too!

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

 At 62cm (24.409449 inches) it definitively made me happy, I now had a fish too.
It looked like it hadn't been in salt water for a long time, like if he had come from fresh water not too long ago, so I put it back in the drink.
We worked this snag a bit more, wondering if any more fish would be in there.
Brett had put a new soft plastic lure on his line, and we admired the swimming action of it.
I was even saying that if I was a Barra, I would be all over it. Well the Barramundi must have been thinking alike, as Brett hooked up to his second fish of the weekend.

Brett's second Barramundi of the weekend.

This fish measured 56cm (22.047244 inches). It was a point scorer, but sadly was going to be Brett's last Barramundi of the weekend.
Now sure that this great snag, in the middle of the creek bent was full of fish, we get back to it, and peppered it with our lures. 
And Brett got a new hookup...
But it was not a fish. Neither a snag, or even me (That nearly came up later). It was a crocodile!
A crocodile had grabbed his lure, and it didn't want to give it back. In the end, the line broke.
This was enough to make us think that if the croc had moved in to eat the fish, the fish would move out pretty quickly, and that is what we did too.
We simply moved to the next creek, closer to the Narrow. 
Where we found another nice looking pile of snags, with fish in it. But I lost two fish in a very short time. It was time to take some drastic measure, and I decided to stop using the safe option of casting weedless soft plastic in the snags. I was going to flick some hard body, three trebles and all, so if a fish found my lure, it would stick to it. Yet I didn't want to take the risk of loosing one of my favourite lures, so decided to go for a Gold Bomber.
Since I started to fish for Barramundi with lures, I was told countless times that the go to lure in Darwin, would be the Gold Bomber. Yet I was still to catch one on this lure, that I had in my tackle box for so long. I made a few cast toward the snag, but by now the fish in it must have been spooked, and I could not find any of them.
As we were moving out of the creek, I made a cast perpendicular to the mangrove, and twitched my lure back toward us. Hookup! 
I had a fish, and it looked like a little barra! I got it to the boat, it wasn't very big, and was visibly well hooked, so I just dragged it in the boat, by the leader.

My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.

At a length of 55cm (21.653543 inches) it was a just legal fish, and was going to be my smallest one of the weekend. It was a point scorer, small points, but points nonetheless, and more importantly, I had now after all these years finally caught a Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
We then wanted to go and have a look at Chad's creek, but seeing the white caps on the water, we decided to go straight back to Leaders Creek, and it too us nearly one hour to get there in the swell.

Once in Leaders Creek, we saw Seano and Kieran and they told us that the fishing was not so hot.
But being there, we decided to troll a little bit...
This is when I did hook a really big fish. I think that I can say that this must have been the biggest Barramundi that I have ever hooked. The strike came violently, without warning, with sheer brute force.
But, I had the drag on my reel practically locked up. The fish took just one run that must have been between 50cm and a metre long, and made a full jump out of the water, perpendicular to the boat. As I was sitting backward, looking at the back of the boat, I saw it in its fullness. Most of the time, big fish just get their shoulders or half of their body out of the water. But this one came all out, in a beautiful straight jump, and my lure, was just simply ripped out of its mouth at that very moment, I think. I didn't saw the lure but I started to rewind like a maniac, the fish by its massive size, had startled me, and all I could say was: It's Big! 
But Brett, who is generally more cold blooded than I when it comes to fishing, asked me if I was still on? I replied that I didn't know, but was still reeling in like if there was no tomorrow. Brett looked at me and said: Stop reeling, you have lost it...
And he was right.
With a more subtle drag, I could have caught this fish, but I did not...
The memory of it is going to haunt me for a long time.
I missed this fish by my own fault, and hopefully will have learn a lesson about it...

Brett, got a good hit just after that, but didn't stay connected.
This made us troll for a bit longer, but we finally decided to go back to the ramp, and setup our camp.
On arriving at the ramp, I could not help but look at the crocodile trap, just a few feet away, from where the guy who operate the ramp was standing. Feet in the water, guiding the boat on their respective trailer.

The croc trap near the Leaders Creek's boat ramp.

There is absolutely no way you would have me standing in the water so close to a crocodile trap.
But it was this guy's job, and he didn't seemed to have any problem with that.
We setup camp, and started a little fire:

Camp fire, with my tent in the background.

Seano and Kieran, joined us, and we all had dinner together. Recounting the events of the days, and wondering how the other participants had done. We keep wondering if anyone had caught a really big Barramundi.
As it turned out, Seano and Kieran, were to catch the two biggest Barramundi of the round the following day. Kieran, would even catch the biggest Jewfish, at 119cm (46.850394).
Brett lent his battery charger to Seano, so he could still use his electric the following day.
It started to be dark, and every one was more or less exhausted by the day of fishing, so we decided to retire to our respective tents. 
I had one of the best sleep I had in a long time. There is something very soothing, to sleep in a tent, that is nothing else than just a mozzie dome, to look at the stars and listen to the night birds, as you fall asleep.
Here is a little two minutes film, I made with my phone in the morning, to give you an idea of what it looked like.

Morning sounds at the camp ground.

As the sun was rising on the last day of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, we made our way in Leaders Creek, as many other hopeful were doing.

Sun rise on Leaders Creek.

We didn't even stop to fish the mouth of Leaders Creek, (Seano and Kieran, latter on told us that when they saw us past, they just smiled, as they had already caught a 94cm (37.007874 inches) Barramundi, and were happy to see every body else going in other places. 
Us, we went straight where Brett got his first fish on the previous day, in the Narrow, in the hope of a bis repetita . With the boat overing near the snag that produced such a nice fish on the Saturday, we both stand next to each other, casting to it, waiting for the Barramundi to strike. And one of them, came, and near the surface had a go at Brett's lure. Brett tried to set the hook, but the lure flew out of the mouth of the fish, and came straight smacking me on the throat. It was strong enough for me to feel it hard hitting where you don't want a lure to hit you.
But lucky me, only the side of the lure that doesn't have a hook hit me, and the lure fell down in the water in front of us.
This could have been a rather tragic end to the day, but luck had been on our side, and we were able to laugh about it.
This was the only fish that we saw at this spot at the time. So we decided to try the snag in the other little creek that had given us two fish the day before.
We arrived there, and started to cast soft plastic in it, for not much action.
Brett turned around and said: I will switch on the sounder to see what it says about the spot.
And as soon as he finished to say it, I shouted: It says that there is some fish in it!
Yes you guessed right, I was on!
This fish, must have been half sleeping still, as it didn't gave a very strong fight. But I was still very happy when it got in the net.

My third Barramundi of the weekend.

This one went 60cm (23.622047 inches), once again, not a giant, but not a bad fish either, especially in regards of what other people in the competition were catching.
This made us think that we might be able to pull a few more fish from our lucky snag.
But it was not to be, and we didn't get anything else from there.

So we decided to go back to the mouth of Leaders Creek. The idea was that we might catch the turn of the tide there, and that the fish would be on the chew.

Leaders Creek's mouth.

As we arrived, we could see a big and very marked colour change in the water.
We soon bumped into Seano and Kieran, who told us that Seano had a 95cm Barramundi, and Kieran a 94cm Barramundi and the 119cm Jewfish.
These fish had been caught just where we were, in the middle of the colour change.
So we started trolling, I had put at the end of my line a Reidy's Big Ass B52s in the colour 008. This is one of my favourite colour in their range, and has served me well over the years. It is often good to use a lure that you trust, and this time was no different.
I got a smashing hit by a big mama Barramundi:

Jumping Barramundi at the end of my line.
Photograph © Kieran Gillespie.

Seano and Kieran who were just near by, started to photograph and film the action. Which might have been a bit on the comical side of things. Because as soon as I had the hit, Brett got tension on his line too! And we both found ourselves fighting a fish! But it downed upon us, that we might have been both fighting the same fish... And the question was then, but who hooked it? For which lure had she gone?
When she finally jumped between the two boats, both Seano and Kieran shouted: She's on the Yellow lure! And that lure was mine, Brett had a silver one. But this Barramundi had gone and wrapped herself in Brett's line and we had to both be carful at what we were doing with her.
She first went jumping at the front of our boat, then swam straight for Seano and Kieran's boat. I started to be afraid that she would go under their propeller, and cut the lines.
But she stopped a bit before that and went for the back of Brett's boat. So we moved at the back of the boat. As soon as we were there, she went at the front of the boat again. Yes, she gave us a good dance this one.
I could hear Seano and Kieran screaming some encouragement, and some joke too, like: Is your drag ok? Or, Make her jump! Make her jump! 
And during all the fight, as I was just trying to get her at netting distance, Brett was reeling his line too, steering the boat at getting the net ready. Talk about multitasking!
As we were back at the front of the boat, she was very close to the net, but managed to avoid it and take another run. Finally she came back and Brett told me to raise her head, which I did and Brett scooped her in the net.
As soon as I saw her in the net, relief and joy overcame me, I had a good fish!

My beautiful last Barramundi of the weekend.

She came in at 85cm (33.464567 inches). She was my best Barramundi of the weekend, and I was very happy to finally have a good fish that hopefully would give me some good scoring point in the round.
This was also so far my best fish on my Revo Off Shore, usually, I get all my good fish on my Curado, so this was a nice change too. You know the little things that made you happy, just like that.

We did troll a bit longer, but for not a single hit, so we decided to pull the curtain on a great weekend.
We went back to the ramp, packed the boat, and hit the road back toward civilisation.

On the road again.

This had been a frustrating and good weekend at the same time.
Frustrating, because it was sad to see Brett breaking a brand new rod.
And good, because it had two days of fishing involved, and that is something that I really like, and as a bonus all our fish this weekend were point scorer.
Thanks again to Brett for inviting me on his boat for the full series this year, I really had a good time.
So what did the 2014 Top End Barra Serie has offered me?
Well...
  • My first Barramundi over a Metre long.
  • My first Mangrove Jack.
  • My first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • My first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • My first Barramundi on a Gold Bomber.
  • And six weekends away with the mates, plenty of laugh and good times.
Would I like to be part of it again next year?
Oh yes, no hesitation about that.

You might ask how did we fishing score wise Brett and I, for the last round, and in the overall scoreboard...
Well for the last round, Brett came in at number 20, and I at number 6.
But where it become really interesting is that at the overall score, we both finished in the top ten!
Brett ended in sixth position and I in fourth.
My big hope at the start of the 2014 series, was that we would both be in the top half, and maybe in the top ten... 
Well it happened, and I am really happy about that.
All I can say now is, bring on the 2015 Top End Barra Series!

And it will be a very long time before it all restart again...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Wanted A Barra.

Hi there,

Yes, this morning I went fishing because I wanted a Barra...

  • I got a Barra.
  • But it wasn't a Barramundi, it was a Barracuda.
The FFF forum has at the moment a competition called The Seadogs, in which you get some point if you catch a Barramundi every month for about a year.
So this morning, I went to one of my favourite land based fishing spot. But truth to be told, I usually go there for pelagic fish rather than for Barramundi.
Yet hope is what makes the world go round, so I had hope.

I arrived early at East Point, and quickly realised that I had missed this spot a lot lately.
It is really a beautiful spot, just in the city, basically.

Sunrise at East Point.

The water was beautiful and calm, and I started to feel that it could be a good morning...

The East Point rocks.

One can easily understand why I like this spot so much, some rocks in the water is usually a good sign to catch some fish.
On arrival, I saw a gentleman who was practicing the noble art of angling, and asked him if he had any luck.
He replied that he had just arrived and as such didn't had the time to catch anything yet.
Ok, I told myself, fair enough.
On the water I spotted my friend Aaron, who was trolling a lure from his kayak.
(He did well, and got three Trevally)
I walked a bit away from the said gentleman, as I don't like it too much when I am quietly fishing in a peaceful spot and someone comes out of nowhere, to fish over my shoulder.
I put on a walk the dog type of lure, did a first soft kind of cast to make sure that every thing was working right. And it did work alright.
So a more serious cast, as far as I could, along the rocks ledge.
And there, in the morning light, I look at my lure, walking like a dog, on the water surface. Thinking that this was a well made lure, easy to use, and rather efficient at catching fish.
When Boum! A flash of silver, and no more lure on the surface, but a tense line and an excited angler.
The fish went straight for the bottom, and didn't fight like a Barramundi. Neither like a Queenfish or a Trevally, which are my most common catch at East Point.
I started to wonder what it could be?
And this is only when it was brought back close enough for me to see what kind of toothy critter had taken interest in my lure.
It was a small Barracuda:

Little Barracuda on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

Which one is his better side?

It kept jumping around, and because of the set of teeth that he was armed with, I had to use my lip grip and a plier to get my lure back, as quick as I could, before putting it back in the water.

First fish on the second cast of the day!
Oh yes, I was now sure that it would be a great morning.
Well it was, but this first fish was also the last one of the day...

Then why was it a great morning you might ask?
Well, because my mate Aaron let me try his kayak, and I really liked it, even if I could not forget that Crocodylus porosus swim in these waters. Which is why, I did not venture too far from shore, and not for very long.
I did met with a new member of the FFF, whom I had never met before.
And also, because I saw Dave, whom I had not seen for a long time.
And Dave made a photo of me fishing, and it shows where I was then hoping to get my Sunday Barramundi. 

Yours truly, in action; (Photo © Dave K.)

A spot of shallow rocky water, along a mangrove.
Well, it looked like the right spot, but the right spot it was not.

From a day that had started so well, with a fish on my second cast, I could not catch another fish. Not because of error on my part. I didn't get a single other hit.
Nothing, nada, zero...
I was hopeful to get a Barramundi, and all I got was a small Barracuda.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Round 5.

Hi there

It was the fifth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, and how did it go?
  • We did much better than last year in roughly the same location (Bynoe Harbour).
  • We got most of our fish on soft plastic lures.
  • I got my first Barramundi on a walk the dog type of lure.
  • Brett is continuing to climb the overall score board, at fast pace.
Yes it was in Bynoe Harbour a place where I got a donut last year... 
But this year was going to be very different, that it could be seen as night and day.
In fact to be honest it was one of my best fishing trip in a long time.
Yes, I had a bit of a cold, which made me cough and sweat more than I should have. I also have had some fishing trip where more fishes were caught, or bigger one...
But fishing in a place that you don't know well, and doing much better than the previous time that you fished it... It has a kind of buzz, that is difficult to beat. When you have the sensation of learning new tricks, it can make you very happy.

So I was fishing this round with Brett, who had kindly invited me o his boat again for this round.
And this was a great advantage for me, as he knows Bynoe Harbour very well.
We arrived at he boat ramp, early in the morning, and a few boats were already waiting in line.
It was good to catch up with a few mates, and some new faces. Exchanging some pre-fishing banters, and just being happy to be there.

Quickly we made our way up to one of Brett's spot, not wasting any precious fishing time.
We put on some soft plastic lures that Brett says are the most efficient fish catcher in Bynoe.
And oh right he was!
we caught about 20 Baramundi and a few other species of fish over the weekend, and only two of all this lot were caught on a different lure.
At the first spot, it was sight casting, a thing that I wanted to try for a long time.
It was great, just waiting for the Barra to arrive from the left, cast a lure in front of it, reel in and look at the fish going for it.
Definitively one of the  most exciting way of fish for Barramundi.
And this is how I got my first Barramundi of the weekend:

First Barramundi of the weekend.

At 54cm (21.259843 inches), it was no monster, but it was a point scorer, the monkey was off my back, and from now on it was all going to be fun. 
Brett got a few undersize fish and finally showed me what fishing really is, by catching a few good ones in a row.

A very serious Barramundi fisherman.

Catching Barramundi, one after the other.

In fact Brett got at least 4 Barramundi from this spot, from memory, I think that the 5 or 6 first Barra caught over the weekend were all sight casted.
This was very exciting, and I did get a bit too excited, when a nice fat 80cm+ (31.496063 inches) Barramundi came swimming on our left.
Brett said: this one is yours, get it.
So I casted toward it... But totally messed up my cast, and flicked the lure way to close to it, and spooked it.
Aaaah!
This would have been a good fish, and safely was not the first one of the weekend that I would miss, just by being silly...
By example as we were moving away from this spot, my skipper showed me a Barramuni, hiding between the submerged branches of a tree. He told me to just drop my lure behind it and lift the fish out of there as soon as it would be hooked. Simple concept really.
But I wanted, against his advice, use a weedless lure...
It went like this: we approach as silently as we could. I drop my lure, behind the fish, just a bit on its side. The Barramundi, turned on itself and very aggressively gobbled the lure! I try to raise the fish out of the water and the branches; it simply open the mouth and let the lure fly out...
My bad, I should have used the same lure that had caught fish before during the day.

You would think that I would have learnt my lesson there and then?
Well, that is another story...

From there we moved into a little creek, were we got stuck in a water hole, by the receding tide.
But all was not lost, as we did catch a few fishes in there.
Brett was laughing his way through a high number of fish:

Happy like a man who just caught a Barramundi.

Despite totally crushing me in the catch rate, Brett was saying that it was the quieter he had ever seen the place. That this water hole should have plenty more of Barra, and some good Tarpon and Threadfin Salmon.
Guess what? 
Not long after talking about Tarpon, he got one, you know, just to show me that they were around:

The Tarpon.

I could not just stay there looking at him catching all the fish; so I hooked on a small Barramundi.

My second point scorer of the weekend.

That was enough to keep me in good spirit, and I kept trying. So Brett once again showed me how to do it:

With another Barramundi from the same spot.

I then got another from the same spot. Basically, there was a stick in the water, and we got all our fish when the lures were swimming past the stick. We could see on the sounder bigger fish, but could not tempt them to hit our lures...
It the water hole, when we arrived, we saw another boat.
They told us that they hooked a Barramundi, but that it took them on a snag and broke the line.
Yes, that must have been on the stick where we got our fishes, as with the falling tide, we saw the lure and were able to pick it up.
When we saw the guys who had lost the lure a bit later in the day, we gave it back to them, this is also what the Top End Barra Series is about.

As the tide was soon to come back we hoped that the big fish would get on the chew and start to bite.
Well, I did get a bit of a surprise:

Mud crab on the lure.

Lucky for him, it was too small to keep so i did put it back.
And lucky for me it was small too, because he tried to grab me with his nippers, and missed me by an hair. Mud crabs can be a bit dangerous when big, and they are also delicious to eat, this one would need to get bigger, and is safe from humans for now.
not long after I got a small Threadfin Salmon, and let it go, as it was like the crab before him, a bit too small to be kept.

This is the place where we waited for the tide to come back to take us out of the creek:

A little water hole full of Barramundi.

The place didn't look like much, but when the Barramundi are hungry, it must be a great place to be.
Coming out of there, sailing in very shallow water we came across a patch of water where the Barra were booting their heads off. 
Brett told me not to think, just cast in front of me, and try to catch some!
I was wondering if it we would catch anything in this dirty fast running water.
I had to reel in much faster than usual, just to keep the lure to be taken on the sand because of the current. And I was wondering how a Barramundi or any other fish, would be able to see my lure in this dark water...
Well it didn't take long, just a few cast, and I was hooked to what much have been my best fish of the weekend.It used the current to its advantage, and first swam toward the boat. Then came to the surface and made its first jump: a very nice Barramundi it was! Brett got the net, got ready to scoop it, but the fish seeing the net, took another run, and I had trouble to get it back to the boat.
When it was finally close enough, Brett got ready again, and instead of going down, the fish came up and jumped again, this time spitting the lure on the right while diving back on the left...
Brett did try to get it in the net, but alas, it was too late and the fish was lost.
Ah!
Brett then quickly hooked on another one, but it was a small one, not a point scorer, and then, as suddenly as it had started, it ended, and the joint become lifeless. 
We ha had a chance, and we lost it, but it had been some really exciting fishing.
It was then time to go back to land, and that is what we did.
We wen to the Palm Sands for a dinner and a night in an air-conditioned room. No not the Sands Plam from Las Vegas, the little motel near Bynoe Harbour...
But the food was great and generous, and it was good after a full day on the water to sleep in air cone and have a shower.
And also talking to all the other participants in the Top End Barra Series who had made up camp at the same motel. Chatting with some of them, we started to think that with all the fish that Brett had caught during the first day, he might end up doing well on the scoreboard. And we were right about that.
So it is withe great optimism that we launched again the following morning.

Beautiful morning to go fishing.

It was a beautiful morning to go fishing, and every body seemed happy.

Trying to be the first on the good spot.

We did pass a few mates on our way to the morning fishing spot. They were going fast, and were going to go much slower in the afternoon...
You will understand...

We went straight where we had sight casted to fish the previous morning. But this time the water was dirty and we could not really see any fish coming through.
Yet a bit on the side of there, we could see a reef that was soon to be exposed, and some bait being harassed by predator.
With the aid of the electric motor, we moved toward the spot and started to flick our lures where the bait was very nervous.
Brett got a very good hit, but it didn't connect.
I got a hit, but the fish pulled hard to the bottom, not coming up. I started to wonder what it was?
It was a Mangrove Jack!

My second ever Mangrove Jack.

This was my second ever Mangrove Jack; the first one had be in the previous round of the Top End Barra series, in the Darwin Harbour.
I was very happy with that!
This one I kept for the esky, Mangrove Jack are delicious to eat.
To me a Mangrove Jack first thing in the morning, is definitively a good sign.
And yes, not long after that, just a few metres from where I had hooked the Mangrove Jack, I hooked on a fish that didn't wast any time to jump, and show us all the chrome it was made of.
It was going to be my biggest Barramundi of the weekend.

My best Barramundi of the weekend.

At only 60cm (23.622047 inches) it was still a rather small fish, but I was to learn latter on that in this round of the Top End Barra Series, it was still going to be a good fish. And it made me very happy.
But with the bites slowing down, and the tide doing the same thing, we decided to move toward another rock bare, in the hope of better fishing.
In doing so we realised that we were leaving not a minute too early, as we could see the sea floor under the boat, and nearly scrapped it a few times. At our destination, the fishing was still very slow, we saw Draco, who confirmed to us, that there was not many Barramundi, where we had just arrived.
We could see some young Queenfish harassing the bait around the boat. So I put a DUO lures, the Realis Pencil 110 that Brett had given me a few months ago, on my line and throw it among them.
That was definitively a winer and I was soon rewarded with a nice little Queenfish hooked on it.

Queenfish on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

This was my first fish on a walk the dog type of lure, and I loved it!When you see your lure walking like a dog on the surface, and a school of fish zooming in on it, then one of them smashing the lure and you line starting to go tight and flying from your reel... What a feeling.

But as we were having all this fun, Brett noticed that some mates of ours, were still on the first rock bare that we had left earlier, when the tide was going down...
And it didn't look really good for them, they seemed to be stranded. So Brett made the call to go and try to rescue them.

The boys stuck on the dry flats.

We could not go too close to them, or we would have been stuck too.
The plan was to try to pull them out of there, before we get stuck ourselves.
So we needed to join the two boat with a rope. For that to happen, one of us had to wade for about 100 meters in knees high water... With my well documented fear of crocodiles, there is no way that I was going to do it. So one of the boys had to run from their boat to Brett's boat, get the rope and go back to his boat. 
The rope was attached between both boat and Brett tried to pull them out of their misery.

Trying to pull the stranded boat.

Well it didn't works as excepted, and we couldn't move their boat at all.
The outboard was starting to overheat, so we had to stop.
Brett asked them if they had enough water, to which they said yes, and we wished them a good day, waiting for the tide. As we made our way to deeper and safer water.

From there we moved to a different spot on the harbour, where we saw Cuddelscooper and his Dear Lady. They told us what everybody told us before. That the fishing was slow, and that they didn't had that much fish yet...
We had a chat, and fished along them for a little while, but for no results.
So we moved along.

And casting over some low tide reefs, I got a small Golden Snapper.

Small golden Snapper on the lure.

And we decided to go back where we were before. But just a few hundreds of meters on our way, and Brett slowed down the boat, and told me: Look at this eddy, it could be full of fish...
And full of fish it was. Some of our best fish for the weekend were caught in the following hour. From a seemingly barren little eddy, whiteout much of a snag or anything, apart a nice colour chafe in the water.
Some were small, but some were better, and Brett got the king share of them:

Brett with a nice chrome salt water Barramundi.

And another one.

In fact because we thought that the opportunity to catch some fish was going to be short, with the tide rising, we did not take pictures of all the fish, as to not waste any time. Only the better ones were photographed. And trust me, for me not to take a picture of each and every fish that came onboard, was difficult...

Selfie with a Barramundi.

I even just did a quick selfie of what was going to be my second best fish of the weekend, before putting it back in the water, because I didn't want to wast any precious time.
When he saw that, Brett asked me if I was all right or sick? Apparently it is well know, that I always want some good photo. We had a good laugh about that too.
And yes, the bite died down, and we had to find some better water if we wanted to catch some more.
By then, we both had our bag of five fish (But we only kept three fish, all the other had been returned to the water to grow bigger). And were in the pursuit of better fish to upgrade our score.
We went in a little creek, that become accessible once the tide started to rise.
And in there, I got my first ever Barramundi on a walk the dog lure:

My first Barramundi on the DUO Realis Pencil 110.

Was I happy? You bet that I was! I liked this lure before, but now I loved it! In the dirty water of the rising tide, the noise that t produce had permitted the Barramundi to zoom on it, and the strike was nothing short of spectacular. In fact the Barra did not boof the lure like they often do. It came and slashed it like if he was a pelagic fish attacking a bait ball. The struck was very aggressive. I was looking at the lure swimming on top of the water, when I saw this grey thing ram the lure from the right and disappear under water with it. I am on ! I screamed, and Brett immediately asked if it was a Barramundi? I don't know I replied, as I had just seen the struck, but had not been able to identify the fish, as it was too fast.
It didn't jump, stayed at the bottom and fought hard, when it finally came to the surface, seeing a bit of grey, I knew it wasn't a cod of some sort, but wasn't sure if it was a Salmon, a Queenfish or a Barramundi. Then it dived, but doing so, raised its tail, and I knew it was a Barramundi, and I didn't want to loose it.
Turned out that I was not going to loose it, as he had hooked itself on both trebles.
And yes it was a small upgrade for me.
And this was the last fish of the weekend.

We then made our way to the boat ramp, where a few boat had been doing the same at the same time... It was peak hour at the ramp.
But the mangrove was still beautiful, and I din't really mind the wait, as it was the occasion to catch up with a few mates.

Bynoe Harbour mangrove.


So how did we ended up Brett and I in this round?
Well Brett finished third and me in the ninth position. This mean that Brett is still continuing his climb on the overall scoreboard, and me, I am not sure yet. I will have to wait to see the full scoreboard to know about that.

Thank you Brett for inviting me on your boat once again.

In the car on the way back, I had a bit of time to reflect on what a great weekend it had been.
And on what the Top End Barra Series had provided me with so far for the 2014 edition.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi over 100cm (39.370079 inches).
  • It gave me my first night time Barramundi on a fizzer.
  • it gave me my first Mangrove Jack.
  • It gave me my first Barramundi on a walk the dog lure.
And plenty of good laugh and friendship. I have also learned again about fishing for Barramundi, in every rounds. 
So it is only fair to say that the first five round of this year Top End Barra Series has been great to me.
Just one more round, and then we will have to wait till next year for it to restart all over again.
This will be a long wait.

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Fat Little Barramundi.

Hi there,

I went fishing with Sarge, in the pursuit of some salt water Barramundi; and...

  • We didn't get many fish.
  • My biggest one was rather short.
  • But it was fat, and that is a good sign for the year to come.
So Sarge and I had decided to go in the direction of Salt Water Arm, with the high ambition of catching ourselves a good feed of fresh Barramundi.
Oh how life can be deceptive some time.
We launched rather late in the morning, thinking that the low tide would be at around midday.
And that by then the fish would be on the chew.
That was a great plan; but it didn't turn out as we had expected.
The fish didn't want to play, or maybe were just too clever for us.

In fact Sarge got the first fish of the day, flicking his lure, and reeling it back, when he got a solid hit, but didn't stay connected. Yet before he got his lure back he got another hit!
but a very small one this time, and yes, it stayed hooked on.
The name of this fish started by Barra too, but it had the wrong ending...
It was a small fish, with big teeth:

The baby Barracuda.

It was a very cute little Barracuda, just a baby really.
And in the water it went back.

After that, it was a long time, of flicking lures, trolling lures and hoping that a fish would find one of our lures attractive... But no, we were like the pariah of the fishing world. The fish avoided our lures, with determination and constance; it started to become a tad frustrating.
So we moved toward a bank that we had not fished yet.
With the idea of changing tactic and to start flicking weedless soft plastic right in the snag.
Two things happened: I got the confirmation that weedless lures still get snagged; I lost a few.
And, we finally got hit by some fish!
In fact only on my third or fourth cast, I hooked and landed my first little Barramundi of the day!

Barramundi on weedless soft plastic.

It was only a very small Barramundi, but after all this flicking for nothing, it sure made me happy!
It was way too small to keep, and was promptly returned to his element: some brownish salt water.
With a renewed enthusiast, I flicked again, hoping for his big brother, or maybe even his big sister...
When not long after that, I was hooked to a fish again!
Got it in the boat, but it was about the same size. Rather than asking Sarge to take a photo of me holding it, I tried a selfie. So Sarge would not loose any precious fishing time. Especially now that we seemed to have found the right spot.
But I am not too good at selfie with a little live fish in my hand, and the pic doesn't really deserves to be shown... 
Then I lost my lure to a snag.
So I sat at the back of the boat to put a new leader on my line, and attach a new lure at the end of it.
Being focused on the task at hand, I forgot about Sarge casting his lure away to any snag that we passed. I forgot till I heard him say something a bit like: "Yes! Oh No! Expletive, expletive, expletive"...
He had just hooked and then lost a Barramundi that was a good 70cm...
He said that he saw it coming, and lazily boof his lure near the surface, turn around, and fight for a few second before spitting the lure.
That would definitively have been the fish of the day, but it was not to be.

So we continued to move along the same little bank, when I made a cast just between two submerged trees. But it was not a good cast. In fact I wanted to cast just next to one of the tree, and had cast spot on in the middle of the two trees... I silently cursed myself, but still tried to give a bit of action to the lure, as I was winding it back. When it was hit with a bang! A sudden hit, a big tail slapped the surface and dived down. I was thinking Barramundi, because I had seen the tail, but it was going down, giving head shake. Could it be a cod or a catfish?
It was definitively a bigger fish than the ones I had before.
Then it came to the surface, head and shoulder out of the water shaking it's big mouth: it was a Barramundi! And I called it for a good fish, he was strong and fast.
Sarge scooped it in the net, and I was impressed by how fat it was. Before realising that it wasn't that long after all.

My best Barramundi of the day.

It measured a rather small 59cm (23.228346 inches), but was fat and had some good shoulder. Which might explain why he had fought above it's size. This was my first, (and was going to be the only) of legal size for the day, so in the esky it went.
I was happy, it was no giant; but I had a feed for my little family.

I am no Barramundi expert, still I do hope that a short but fat Barramundi is a sign of a good year in front of us. Last year the Barramundi were not that fat early in the season.
Or at least, not the ones I caught.

Not long after that, we had to call it a day.
And a great day it had been, thank you Sarge for inviting me on your boat.

Yes, I know, one lonely fish to bring back home might not look like much to some of you...

But hey, it could be worse.
Have a good day,
Me.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

2014 Top End Barra Series Round 4.

Hi there,

Here come the tale of the fourth round of the 2014 Top End Barra Series, taking place on the Darwin harbour.
  • Brett my skipper won the round!
  • We got all our fish on soft plastic.
  • We had a great time.
  • And a new fish species for me!
So lets start at the beginning.
Darwin Harbour always promised to be an interesting round.
I won the round three year ago, but hadn't done very good in it in the past two years.
Brett had fished the harbour a bit in the past few month, and knew where the fish would be...
This sounded good to me, it was was going to be...

Brett picked me up, not too early, and that was nice to have a short sleep in before going fishing for once. I must be getting old...
On the harbour, the water looked like glass:

Water like glass on Darwin harbour.

Yes, this photo was made, from a boat moving at full speed. And it shows how beautiful the water and weather were.
We were soon on our first spot, and trying to sight cast to Barramundi swimming in the shallow mud flat. The only problem, was that we usually spotted the fish after they had spotted us, and by then it was way too late to catch them.
We did see some shadows swimming on the front left of the boat. Both our lures flew at the same time, mine didn't bring back the beacon, but Brett was on!

Brett on the first fish of the weekend.

This was  good fight for the first fish of the weekend, but it wasn't a Barramundi...
It was a mother in law fish...
By this point I was still fishing with my own lures, which was an error...
Brett was starting to get some hit, and he landed the first Barra for the round:

First Barramundi for the round.

Brett, was already doing good, and telling me to use the same lure than he was.
But being myself, I could not help to want to try some of my shiny lures... And what a mistake it was. I did have a few little bump, half hearted hits on my lures, but nothing serious, nothing to call home for. While Brett was reeling them in.
Brett had already got three Barramundi, a Mother In Law fish, a catfish and a little rock cod, I was still fish less...
Drastic measures were needed, and drastic measure were taken, I finally took my skipper's advice, and started to use one of his lure.
Guess what?
I immediately hooked a fish!
Alas, not of the right species...

Stargazer on the line.

Yes, it was  a small Stargazer, and as beautiful these little fish are, it was not the target of the day. Or of any day in fact, and it was promptly returned to the water, to feed hopefully on a better prey for him than another fisherman's lure.

Brett on the other hand, had no problem to find the Barra, and after two smallish ones, finally struck gold, and got a nice one:

Brett and the biggest Barramundi of the weekend.

At 80cm (31.496063 inches) this was going to be the biggest Barramundi caught over the weekend, by any of the competitors. This was a great point scorer, and catapulted Brett on the first step of the podium.  This big fish, was released free nice and healthy, ready to fight another day.
Barra were boofing in the shallow around us, and it was starting to get really exciting.
So Brett did exactly what any good fisherman would have done in similar conditions: he caught another Barra! But this one came with a surprise:

Barramundi with nipped tail.

The tail of this beautiful salt water Barramundi, had just been nipped by a shark.
No doubt about it, it was not its lucky day, as he ended in the esky, no more torment.
Barramundi were the fish to catch, but a good fisherman's basket always contains more than one offering, Brett also caught a beautiful crocker and a great harbour Goldie:

Brett and his Golden Snapper.

Very kindly he offered me to keep these two fishes, which I accepted, as so far, my own basket looked pretty sad and empty. The Goldie was given to my mother in law, so I would stays in the good books. And the rest, was part of a very nice meal at home.

It was nearly time to go home, as we had decided to not spend the night in the boat, and I was still without any Barramundi to my name. I was starting to think that I had missed the feeding time, and that I would have to do better the following day, if I didn't want to end on a donut.
Brett said, lets try a last spot before we call it a day, and drove the boat to another rocky beach.
Shallow dirty waters, rock and oyster all around, this looked like a good spot for a Barramundi to ambush preys, and maybe find my lure...
After a few cast all around the boat, I did the longest one that I could, in direction of the beach. The lure fell in a few centimetre of water, and raising my fishing rod high I quickly reeled in the first few meters as to not get stuck on the shallow rocks. Then I slowed down to normal speed, wondering in how shallow the Barramundi would be hunting. I was quickly informed, that they don't need much at all. The fish had taken the lure, and this time it seemed like it was properly hooked, and it jumped and showed me that it was indeed a Barramundi. A nice little harbour Barramundi, not a giant, but a feisty little point scorer. Which if I was able to get it to the net, would get me on the board, and take the monkey off my back. To say that I really wanted to get this fish in the boat would have been an understatement. I didn't want this fish, I needed it!
And Brett did a very good job at netting it first try, and I knew I could now relax.

My first Barramundi of the weekend.

As I said, no monster, but still a very sweet little fish.
And as it often happen, a second fish followed the first one in no time, the drought had been broken.

My biggest Barramundi for the weekend.

At 63cm (24.80315 inches) it was not huge, but was going to prove itself my biggest one for the weekend, and not a bad one in the competition.

By now, it was the end of the first day, and it was time to go back to the boat ramp, and head home for a rest.
Little talk and chitchat with other competitors at the ramp, instructed me that Brett had indeed done very well on the first day, and would certainly be in the top ten, and that if I could continue to do the same on the second day, I might be in the top twenty. This was good news.

On the morning of the second day, it was nearly the same start, but a bit later.
Once again the water was absolutely flat and glass looking.

Brett taking pictures of the paparazzi.

It was so flat, that I decided to take some more photographs of the harbour. Brett laughed and said that I was like a paparazzi, always taking pictures of everything.

Full throttle toward spot X.

The advantage of a flat sea, is that we can go full speed on to our fishing spot.
Less time travelling, and more time fishing.

It started pretty much as the day before, in the sense, that I did try to fish with my own lures first...
But this time, it was short lived, and I quickly put on the lure that Brett had lent me on the previous day.
And second cast...
I got my first ever Mangrove Jack!
Just a baby one, but still it made my day. If that was the only fish I had caught over the entire weekend, I would still have been very happy.
I have been in Darwin for many years, and was yet to catch one. All my friends were catching them, but not me .
I was a very happy man there and then:

My first ever Mangrove Jack.

At 33cm (12.992126 inches) it was rather small, and I let it go, despite them being very good on the plate. It had made me happy enough and deserved to live an grow, to hopefully become a happy big daddy Mangrove Jack.

After this very happy encounter with baby Jack, it took me only two cast to get another Barramundi!
Yes, on the second cast, I was on again, and when it jumped, clear of the water, shaking its head like a mad one, we saw that this time it was a Barramundi.
Brett told me to raise my rod, that it was very shallow and full of rocks, so raise my rod I did.
And the fish was in the net, quick smart, still very green.

My third Barramundi for the weekend.

Two fish in three cast, I was happy, and started to take a serious liking in Brett's fishing lures.
So much in fact that I decided on the spot, that they were going to be my next purchase.

The fishing slowed down a little bit, so we zoomed to another spot.
Where history repeated itself once again.
First cast nothing happen.
Second cast and I am on!
I saw my lure coming out from a colour change, then a Barra came rushing behind hit, and boofed it before trying to swam back in the colour change. Realising it was hooked, so close to the boat, it went ballistic and jumped around, swam to the other side of the boat. Where Brett was waiting for it with the net, and scooped it, and deposited it on the embarkation's floor.
As soon as he had dropped the net, Brett started to cast again, saying that they must have been feeding.
And before I got my lure out of the mouth of my Barramundi, Brett's saying that he is on too!
So I just got the Barra out of the net, lure still in mouth and got ready to scoop the second Barramundi. Hooked just a few minutes apart of each other.
This was not a double hook-up, but it was as close as it can be of one.
Once Brett's fish was in the net, we quickly got the lures out of their mouth, and put both of them back in the net, thinking that they needed a swim, before we could photograph them.

Brett with the two Barramundi.

My last Barramundi of the weekend.

Brett had caught the bigger one, and me the smaller one.
This was the last two Barramundi we would catch for the weekend, and that was enough to make us happy.
We didn't even get another sniff at this post after the two fish in rapid succession.
So we went somewhere else.
Where Brett got a rat Barra, and a little blue salmon, which gave him a bit of a rubble.
At one stage Brett was standing on one side of the boat, the fish went under the boat and jumped on the other side. With the line going under the boat from one side to the other.
Finally it was subdued, brought to the boat and released.

Brett with the little Blue Salmon.

But not catching any more fish, with the wind starting to rise, and some good fish already caught, we decided that it was time to head back.

Not very far from the ramp, we saw someone who had run out of petrol, and we towed him back towards the ramp.

Towing a boat on the water.

This had been a great weekend, with as usual plenty of good laughs. And a few good fish as a bonus.
The Top End Barra Series once again had delivered a first for me: my first ever Mangrove Jack.

A big thank you to Brett for inviting me on his boat again, this is much appreciated.

So how did we go on the scoreboard?
Well Brett finished first for the round!
Which put him in the tenth spot at the overall scoreboard, with two rounds to go, he can still progress towards the top.
Me, I ended up 14 for the round, which sent me back to the fifth position in the overall tournament results. So now I have to try to get lucky in the last two rounds for 2014, to stay in the top pack.
The only problem, is that we are now at a stage where most competitors start to eye the finish line, and to act more serious.
Perfect time for me to fall back lower in the ranking...

But hey, it could be worst.
Have a good day,
Me.